Sunday, July 24, 2016

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Random Photos: Diversity

I want to share a link with you all to an article about diversity posted the other day by Lee Lofland, who maintains a blog for writers: A Politically Correct Article . . . Maybe. Well said, Lee!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Skywatch Friday 157

To say we had some wild weather here last night would be a gross understatement. Thankfully no tornadoes, but we did have severe thunderstorms that brought torrential rains, high winds and flash flooding. First, we were under an excessive heat warning all day yesterday, and are so again today. At 5 pm yesterday, it was 93F with a heat index of 107F. As the storms moved in from the northwest, the temperature dropped twenty degrees in one hour. By 6 pm, it was so dark outside, you'd have thought it was three hours later than it was. The rains hit about 6:30 pm. Not a soft soaking, but a heavy downpour. It came down in sheets, making it difficult to see very far in front of you, and causing many local streets to flood. Opening the back door of our building was near impossible with the wind and rain pushing against it.

About 7 pm, I was sitting in my living room, which faces south away from the storm. I had turned off the AC and opened the front window several inches so I could smell and listen to the rain. Plus, I wanted to be able to hear any storm sirens if they sounded (which, thankfully, they did not). I was talking to a friend when I heard a sharp cracking noise -- and looked out my front window in time to see the tree in our front yard topple. Between the torrential rains completely saturating the ground and high wind gusts whipping between the buildings, it didn't stand a chance and was completely uprooted. How it missed the cars parked along the curb is anyone's guess!

I saw a lot of downed branches and large tree limbs en route to work this morning, as well as a few other trees that were uprooted during the storm and one carport that had it's roof blown off. There will be a lot of clean up going on across central and southern Wisconsin today, as well as southern Minnesota, northern Iowa and northern Illinois. What's more, we could see more of the same over the next few days -- high heat and humidity during the day, storms in the afternoon or evening. Fun!

Anyway, here are a few photos taken last night and this morning. The sunset pics were taken near the end of the storm, about 8:45 pm. As the storm started to quiet, I went to check the back of the building, to see if any trees or branches were down back there -- thankfully, only a few small branches, nothing major -- when I spied this bit of color between the buildings.

Looking north about 6 pm, as storms moved in.

Taken shortly after 7 pm from front
porch, during height of the storm.

Sunset, looking northwest about 8:45 pm,
as storm started to quiet.

Looking at these, you'd never guess how violent
the weather had been for hours before sunset.

Taken this morning from driveway.

It looks like it took at least one branch of the curbside tree with it.

It narrowly missed the nearer red car, and another that was
parked behind it. Seriously -- not a scratch on either car. 

LINKING TO: Skywatch Friday

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Thursday Thirteen 423: Garry Marshall

I was saddened to hear that we lost a great writer/director/producer, Garry Marshall, who died at age 81 Tuesday. Marshall had a long and prosperous career, both on and behind the screen. Here are a few of the TV shows and movies he brought us that I have actually seen (six of which I actually own):

01. The Odd Couple (1970-75)

02. Happy Days (1974-84)

03. Laverne and Shirley (1976-83)

04. Mork & Mindy (1978-82)

05. The Flamingo Kid (1984; Matt Dillon)

06. Nothing in Common (1986; Tom Hanks, Jackie Gleason)

07. Overboard (1987; Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell)

08. Beaches (1988; Bette Midler, Barbara Hershey)

09. Pretty Woman (1990; Julia Roberts, Richard Gere; Héctor Elizondo)

10. The Runaway Bride (1999; Julia Roberts, Richard Gere)

11. The Princess Diaries (2001; Julie Andrews, Anne Hathaway, Héctor Elizondo)

12. Raising Helen (2004; Kate Hudson, John Corbett, Joan Cusack)

13. New Year's Eve (2011; Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Héctor Elizondo, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Meyers, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank, Sofía Vergara -- and a few other big names)

Do you have a favorite Garry Marshall TV show or movie?

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wordless Wednesday 226: Monarda

Monarda, or scarlet bee balm


Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Teaser Tuesday 320: Journal of a Solitude

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Jenn of Books and a Beat. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current book or recent read.
* Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere in the book.
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

As many of you know, I rarely read nonfiction. While some people love memoirs and biographies, or dull and heavy histories, I am not one of those people. However, when I stumbled across a copy of Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton in the bookstore clearance section, there was something about it that caught my attention. Sarton published a number of her journals, this one spanning a year in her life as she approached age 60.

Begin here. It is raining. I look out on the maple, where a few leaves have turned yellow, and listen to Punch, the parrot, talking to himself and the rain ticking gently against the windows. I am here alone for the first time in weeks, to take up my "real" life again at last. That is what is strange—that friends, even passionate love, are not my real life unless there is time alone in which to explore and to discover what is happening or has happened. Without the interruptions, nourishing and maddening, this life would become arid. Yet I taste it fully only when I am alone here and "the house and I resume old conversations."

(Opening paragraph)


"I am here alone for the first time in weeks," May Sarton begins this book, "That is what is strange—that friends, even passionate love, are not my real life unless there is time alone in which to explore and to discover what is happening or has happened.” In this journal, she says “I hope to break through into rough, rocky depths, to the matrix itself. There is violence there and anger never resolved. My need to be alone is balanced against my fear of what will happen when suddenly I enter the huge empty silence if I cannot find support there."

In this, her bestselling journal, May Sarton writes with keen observation and emotional courage of both inner and outer words: a garden, the seasons, daily life in New Hampshire, books, people, ideas—and throughout everything, her spiritual and artistic journey. In this book, we are closer to the marrow than ever before in May Sarton’s writing.

"This journal is not only rich in the love of nature and the love of solitude. It is an honorable confession of the writer’s faults, fears, sadnesses, and disappointments. . . On the surface, Journal of a Solitude is a quiet book, but if you will read it carefully you will be aware of violent needs and a valiant warrior who has battled every inch of the way to a share of serenity. This is a beautiful book, wise and warm within its solitude."
—Eugenia Thornton, Cleveland Plain Dealer

May Sarton’s other journals in Norton paperback include After the Stroke, At Seventy, The House by the Sea, Plant Dreaming Deep, and Recovering.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Skywatch Friday 156

July 2 -- Warm and partly cloudy skies.

July 5 -- Hot and humid, but not enough to deter this hawk.

July 6 -- Overcast skies made the temp more comfortable
for that evening's Concert on the Square, held on the
grounds of the State Capitol (lantern of which is above). 

July 7 -- Another hot and humid day, with mostly cloudy skies.

July 7 -- Did I mention it was mostly cloudy??

LINKING TO: Skywatch Friday

Thursday Thirteen 422: Recently Read

Below are featured the last thirteen books completed this year. So far, I have completed 47 books in my goal of 80 -- which includes five classics in a goal of ten, and 20 out of 40 criteria for the 2016 Ultimate Challenge (my goal was to do at least half, so yay me!). As always, click on any cover or link for more info.


ROW 1:
Lemon Pies and Little White Lies is book four in Ellery Adams’ Charmed Pie Shoppe series, which is based on the legend of Merlin and Morgan La Faye. Diane Vallere was the June Featured Author in the Cozy Mysteries group at Goodreads, and I read two books in her Material Witness series, Suede to Rest and Crushed Velvet.

ROW 2: More cozy mysteries. Killer Maize is part of a Farmers’ Market series by Earlene Fowler was a September 2013 Featured Author. I read book one of her Bennie Harper quilting series way back then, but never seemed to get round to book two, Irish Chain, until now. Leann Sweeney was an October 2012 Featured Author, and her Cats in Trouble series, of which this is book seven, is a favorite of mine. How can you go wrong with cats and quilts? Book eight is out later this summer.

ROW 3: Yes, more cozies. Boiled Over is the second book in Barbara Ross’s Maine Clambake series, and there are two more in Mount TBR. Death is Like a Box of Chocolates is a first in series by a new-to-me author, Kathy Aarons, and is set at a combined book and chocolate store—how perfect is that? Sheila Connolly is another favorite author, and was a cozy Featured Author in October 2015. Sour Apples is book six in her Orchard series, and she writes a number of other series as well, including one set in Ireland, and a glass-blowing series under the name of Sarah Atwell.

ROW 4: O, Pioneers! by Willa Cather was a reread for me, and a second quarter group read for a GR romance group. I liked this one when we read it in college, and enjoyed it even more this time around. It also fit an Ultimate Challenge criteria of a classic from the 20th century. Skin by Roald Dahl was a May group read, the criteria for that month being a book of short stories (it narrowly edged out a collection by Hemingway). I wasn’t planning to read this one, but then stumbled across a cheap copy at Half Price Books. A couple of the stories seemed vaguely familiar, though I did not recall reading them previously. As much as I love the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I had never read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, also by Roald Dahl. This fit the Ultimate Challenge criteria of a book you can read in a day (155 pages). Naturally, I had to watch the movie again when I was done. (And yes, there was some chocolate consumption while reading and watching.)

ROW 5: Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton is a nonfiction book I stumbled upon in the bookstore clearance section. I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but something about this one—a journal spanning a year in the author’s life as she approaches age 60— drew me to it. May Sarton was an American poet and novelist who also published a number of personal journals.

YOUR TURN: What are you reading these days?

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Wordless Wednesday 225: Spiderwort and Yarrow


Wordless Wednesday

Teaser Tuesday 319: Suede to Rest

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Jenn of Books and a Beat. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current book or recent read.
* Share a few "teaser" sentences from somewhere in the book.
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away. You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

Suede to Rest is the first book in Diane Vallere’s "Material Witness" series, in which Poly Monroe has just inherited a boarded up fabric store. The following scene is from her first morning there.

I wrapped myself in the zebra-fur blanket and left the apartment, scampering down the cold metal stairs in my bare feet. I opened the front door and bright sunlight blinded me, along with the pulsating blue and red lights circulating at even intervals.

(Chapter 3)

Series: Material Witness #1

With her career as a dress designer in shreds, Polyester Monroe is looking forward to a fresh start . . .

When Poly Monroe was little, she loved playing in her family’s textile store. But after a fatal family tragedy, Land of a Thousand Fabrics was boarded up and Poly never expected to see the inside again. Now, as inheritor of the long-shuttered shop, she’s ready to restore the family business. However, her two new kittens, Pins and Needles, aren’t the ones causing a snag in her plans . . .

Not everyone wants Poly back in San Ladrón, especially a powerful local developer pressuring her to sell—and leave town fast. Even when the threats turn deadly, she’s not ready to bolt. Because Poly is beginning to suspect that a murder behind the shop is tied to a mystery in her family’s unsettled past that she’s determined to solve . . . before her own life is left hanging by a thread.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Friday, July 08, 2016

Skywatch Friday 155

Madison, State Capitol Building
viewed from across Monona Lagoon

LINKING TO: Skywatch Friday

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Thursday Thirteen 421: New Cannonball Extension

Last week I had the chance to walk the new Cannonball Path extension, which was completed late last summer. Part of this section skirts the edge of the Arboretum wetlands, and runs from the Beltline to Fish Hatchery Rd. There was a plethora of flowers, so you know my camera was out along the entire length of this walk. Here is a glimpse of what I saw . . .

Crown Vetch

Black-eyed Susans

Looking south down the path

St. John's Wort

Arboretum Wetlands

Waterlilies -- I could hear frogs along here, but never saw them

Milkweed and bee

Daisies and Black-eyed Susans

There is a small section of this path that runs parallel to railroad tracks
(The entire Cannonball Path is built along former tracks)

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen